But I think you're viewing KH2 from your present perspective, where as I'm speaking of base KH2 back when it first came out. I felt it was complete when I played the base version of KH2. It was only after KH2FM came out (which was a year later) that I came to expect more of what KH2FM had to offer for future games in the series. It was almost like there was my expectations for the series before KH2FM and then new expectations for the series after KH2FM.
Also consider this, even though BBS and KH3D didn't live up to KH2FM overall, they did try to carry over fan favorite elements of KH2FM. BBS had a secret bosses that hinted at the next game in the series (Mysterious Figure A.K.A Young Xehanort), BBS also had Mirage Arena which served the same purpose as the coliseum. Later on in BBSFM they added the Unversed Challenges which were clearly a substitute for the Mushroom XIII. BBS also had the stickers which were similar to the puzzle pieces in KH2FM. The only thing it was missing was a Sephiroth fight, but at least Sephiroth got a cameo in the credit scene with Zack. (I also will criticize BBS for not having at least a brief scene with Young Leon/Squall)
Moving onto KH3D you had the battle portals (which I think was trying to act a substitute for the coliseum tournaments since Olympus Coliseum couldn't be in the Realm of Sleep obviously. An excuse which KH3 clearly doesn't have to hide behind). They could also be viewed as a substitute for the Mushroom XIII. And then again with the special portals that let you refight stronger versions of the bosses which again I thought was a substitute for the coliseum. KH3D not having a Final Fantasy boss made since because again it's in the Realm of Sleep. The odd thing about KH3D was having Julius as a boss instead of someone more tied into the story.
You can see though that they were at least trying to carry over elements from KH2FM to other games that followed it. I figured the same would naturally be true for KH3.
Why are we conveniently forgetting that KH and KHFM exist? KHFM introduced a secret boss that hints at a future game, not KH2FM. KH1 introduced collectibles, not KH2FM. KH1 introduced the Coliseum and tournaments, not KH2(FM).
KH2 was generally regarded as a great game because it was fun and technically superb, but no serious review has ever dared to say that it was a COMPLETE improvement over KH1, simply because it isn't. Level design is a downgrade and generally feels cheap; exploration is close to non-existent; the plot has a bad pace; the game is too easy; the gameplay is too flashy and button-smashing (sounds familiar?).
This is exactly why some fans need to let go of KH2(FM), the nostalgia glasses are just too strong on this one.
KH3 needs to be KH3, not KH2FM 0.2. To be a good game and a worthy sequel, KH3 needs to take elements from the previous games (and I said gameS) and improve them. That's how it works. We don't know if KH3 has succeeded because we haven't played the game yet (and yes, we do need to play it before we judge it) but we do know that it has addressed some, if not every big issues this series has:
- Disney doesn't seem to be a filler anymore (unlike KH2)
- Every Keyblade seems to be useful now (unlike KH2)
- Gummiship looks like a big improvement
- Exploration is back (unlike KH2).
If KH3 generally feels like an improvement, than it has done what it needed to do (and it doesn't mean that it isn't allowed to have flaws, because perfection doesn't exist). Fans are free to expect KH2FM 2.0 but they're just setting themselves up for disappointment because, thank God, Nomura thinks KH3 needs to be KH3.
And don't even get me started on the hypocrisy some fans are showing. A common complain is "KH3 is too flashy and cinematic, I wish it was like KH2(FM)" which is tremendously ironic because it was KH2 that introduced flashiness and "cinematic combat", but everyone has forgotten or is simply overlooking it. KH2FM really only shines when played on critical mode at level 1 (even "normal" critical mode can be beaten with only X, dodge and Cure - that's what I did). If you need to play the game with those restrictions to finally feel a challenge and feel like "this is what it's supposed to play like", then the base game has problems and it's far too easy. Yet, when judging KH3, many simply forget KH2(FM)'s faults and not only it's ironic like I already said, but it's also unfair because you're comparing a game you've played with a bunch of trailers. A fair comparison can be done after playing KH3 with the same restrictions as KH2FM. If the game feels like it rewards the player's efforts and skills and doesn't rely on luck, then KH3 has succeeded (and it doesn't need to be a mere copy of KH2FM to do so). This constant comparison with KH2FM is exhausting and only damages KH3 and KH as a whole, it needs to stop (or at least it needs to take on a more objective look).